What Colour Of Hi Vis Should I Wear?
In the UK high visibility (hi vis) clothing is available in two colours; hi vis orange and hi vis yellow. Even though there is clothing available in several other colours including black, blue, green, pink and red that has reflective stripes, this is not hi vis clothing and is not compliant with EN 20471. Most individuals will wear hi vis yellow or orange although hi vis orange that is compliant with RIS-3279-TOM must be worn by anyone working on or near a railway.
The HSE states that “to be effective hi vis clothing should be of a colour that will allow the wearer to stand out against the ambient background found in the working environment. In practice the best colours for this purpose are likely to be day-glo, or fluorescent yellow. Where necessary the clothing should also incorporate retroreflective material to make the wearer visible when seen in headlights in poor lighting conditions or during darkness. This may require reflective strips at or below waist level on waistcoats or jackets, or strips on trousers.”
I Work For The Rail Industry, Why Do I Have To Wear Hi Vis Orange?
As mentioned above, all individuals working on or near the trackside must wear hi vis orange clothing that meets the safety standards set out in RIS-3279-TOM. This standard is only applicable to the UK rail industry and ensures that rail workers on or near the trackside are visible to both trains and other vehicles.
Traditionally, yellow and green are both used for train signaling, so rail workers wore high visibility orange clothing to avoid confusing the train drivers. Most rail maintenance work takes place in rural areas which makes orange a much better option for improved visibility. A worker wearing yellow hi vis clothing can blend into a green location while hi vis orange contrasts strongly against light and dark environments.
What Classification Of Hi Vis Clothing Do I Need?
These three classes are related to risk assessment and are defined by the minimum areas of background fluorescent and retro-reflective material. Class 3 garments provide the highest level of visibility with Class 1 being the lowest.
High-Visibility Class 1: Lowest level of visibility
Clothing such as hi-vis trousers that are worn separately from other hi-vis garments.
High-Visibility Class 2: Intermediate level of visibility
Items that commonly meet Class 2 include hi-vis sleeveless vests. Even though it is a single garment, they are worn at a more visible height and therefore comply with Class 2.
High-Visibility Class 3: Highest level of visibility
Class 3 can be achieved by wearing items rated as Class 3 including a hi vis jacket or hi vis coverall or by wearing jointly certified products that make up Class 3 based on the total area of fluorescent and reflective material.
It is important to note that hi vis garments that are two-tone in colour (eg, hi vis yellow with contrasting navy panels) may have a lower classification than an identical item is not two tone in appearance.
Can I Add My Company Logo To My Hi Vis Clothing?
Hi vis clothing can be branded with an organisation’s logo but where possible, use reflective logo transfers or place branding on the contrast material. This ensures visibility is not impacted and hi vis safety standards required by EN 20471 and RIS-3279-TOM are maintained. If your logo appears to blend in with the hi vis orange or yellow fabric, you might want to consider adding a white background to your artwork or creating a single colour logo in black or white.
Is Ladies Hi Vis Clothing Available In Both Hi Vis Orange And Yellow?
The range of high visibility clothing for women working across Construction, Rail and Utilities has greatly increased in recent years. No longer are they wearing ill-fitting and uncomfortable workwear, PPE and safety footwear. Items have now been designed specifically for female employees to ensure optimum comfort and protection at work.
In the UK, employers are required to provide protective workwear and PPE, and if women are required to wear these items on-site and it doesn’t fit their body, then this can be a barrier. The concept of protective workwear and PPE regulations is that it should be fit for purpose, fit for use, and fit for the individual. Unsafe PPE for women results in higher risk to the health and safety of women on-site, through no fault of their own.
Clad Safety stock a wide range of women’s hi vis protective workwear including polo shirts, trousers and hi vis maternity wear.
When Does My Hi Vis Clothing Need To Be Replaced?
It is imperative that both the wearers and health and safety managers understand the life cycle of hi vis clothing. The visibility will deteriorate over time and when this happens, the garment may no longer be compliant with EN 20471. This puts the wearer at risk of serious injury, especially on a busy construction site or any other applicable environment where clear visibility of workers is essential.
It is widely recommended to replace high visibility clothing after it has been washed 25 times but as technology has advanced, it is worth noting that a handful of brands such as Leo Workwear manufacture garments which guarantee more than 25 washes for hi vis clothing. Employers or buying managers must check the specifications of the particular garment to ensure compliance, as this is the exception rather than the rule. For example, the Kingford EcoViz® Stretch Cargo Trouser is certified to last up to 50 wash cycles.
Can I Purchase Hi Vis Clothing That Also Provides Arc Flash Protection?
Often individuals working in an arc flash environment will require both arc flash protection and high visibility clothing. Clad Safety understand this health and safety requirement and therefore supply a range of technical workwear and PPE to our Rail and Utilities customers that is compliant with both EN 20471 and IEC 61482. The Clad Safety Arc Flash Coverall is available in hi vis yellow and hosts an array of innovative features including additional stretch for wearer comfort and 50mm FR heat reflective tape. Meanwhile many of the ProGARM® items are available in hi vis yellow and hi vis orange and also provide arc flash protection. The hi vis orange arc flash items from ProGARM® are also suitable for railway work where arc flash protection is required.
Hi vis clothing is available in a range of colours and even though hi vis yellow and hi vis orange are the most popular, you must always conduct the appropriate health and safety assessment or speak to your Health and Safety Manager before purchasing hi vis clothing for you and your team. Ensuring all individuals working on site are wearing the correct colour and classification of hi vis clothing is of paramount importance.
If you have any questions on hi vis clothing and which colour you need you can download our Safety Standard’s guide or speak to a member of the Clad Safety team on 0800 161 3661. Clad Safety work with Procurement Managers, Health and Safety Managers and Buying Teams from large organisations across the Construction, Rail and Utilities sectors. With over 30 years of experience in the supply of technical hi vis workwear and PPE, we will work with you to keep your team protected and safe.